Miami Beach Opens Affordable-Housing Waitlist for First Time Since 2015

Miami Beach's affordable-housing crisis is nothing new, and its elected officials know that. Seven years ago, the city adopted an ambitious plan to create at least 16,000 new affordable units by 2020. But last summer, commissioners admitted there was no way the city could hit that goal and voted to extend the deadline and reduce the goal to only 6,800 affordable units.

In the meantime, hundreds of families have languished on the city's waitlist for affordable housing — if they were lucky enough to get on the list at all.

This week, Miami Beach opened its waitlist for the first time since 2015, giving locals a new shot at scoring an affordable apartment. Applications will be accepted online through Friday, July 6, at 5 p.m.

In a city where the median rent for a one-bedroom is $1,580, many of Miami Beach's hotel workers and service industry employees say they can't afford to live there. Instead, people such as Fontainebleau housekeeper Odelie Paret spend up to three hours each night on multiple bus rides back to their homes in the outermost stretches of the county.

"A Fontainebleau housekeeper would need to spend nearly her entire paycheck on rent to live on Miami Beach," the Miami Herald noted in a May 2017 story about Paret.

Part of the problem is the lack of affordable units large enough for an entire family. Paret, who lives with her five children, told the Herald she moved to Opa-locka to find a four-bedroom apartment she could afford. Unfortunately, the newly opened Miami Beach affordable-housing application applies to only families of up to three people.

As of now, housing officials say there's still a backlog from 2015 of families looking for apartments larger than a one-bedroom. Currently, the city has studios available at the Neptune Apartments, which has 35 units, and Madeleine Village, a 16-unit building. One-bedroom apartments are also up for grabs at the six-unit London House Apartments.

After the application process closes July 6, the city will hold a lottery to randomly select 1,000 applications to be placed on the official waitlist for affordable housing. The last time the list opened, only 1,000 names were chosen of more than 5,000 entries.

Under housing guidelines, applicants must earn no more than $54,400 per year for a family of three, $48,350 for a family of two, or $42,300 for a single person. According to a city memo, the lottery will be held August 1 at 11 a.m.
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Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.